Hollywood has seen a few stand-out cases of controversial whitewashing in recent years when it comes to Asian characters, but today one actor stood against it. Actor Ed Skrein, best known for playing the villain in Deadpool, has announced that he has decided to step away from the production of Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen following public backlash. Now the producers of that film have responded to that development, and they definitely seem supportive of the performers decision:
Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision. It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.
Following the news this morning that Ed Skrien would no longer be playing the part of Major Ben Daimio in Hellboy: Rise Of The Blood Queen, Deadline reached out to the production for comment. The above statement comes from Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin of Lionsgate and Millennium, who have made it clear that they fully support the actors decision to leave the project.
This situation all began to unfold last week, when the news came out that Ed Skrein was joining the cast of the developing Hellboy reboot - which is currently set to star David Harbour as the titular demonic hero and Milla Jovovich of the eponymous villain who will be "rising" through the course of the story. While fans of the source material have no problem with Skrein as an actor, the casting was seen as controversial due to the fact that Major Ben Daimio is of Japanese decent, and Skrien is not. The the wake of similar arguments following movies like The Ghost In The Shell and Death Note, social media did not take the news in stride, and instead rebelled against it. This backlash was apparently enough for Skrein to second guess his involvement with the production, and step away to make room for an actor of the proper ethnicity.
A re-do that will be Rated-R and has nothing to with Guillermo del Toro's two movies about the Dark Horse character, Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen is set to be directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday), and is being adapted from the comics by creator Mike Mignola, Andrew Cosby, and Christopher Golden. Ian McShane and American Honey actor Sasha Lane are set to co-star, and while no official release date has been pinned down just yet, it's expected that filming will begin in the next few weeks/months. Because of this, we should be hearing about Major Ben Daimio fairly soon, so keep on the look out for more updates on that front.